Uh, yes. Spot on!
I wonder if this is what Peter Parker feels like when he goes home to MJ and finally takes off his mask.
After a sincere, year-long attempt at a relationship, I’m actually pleased to be returning to single life. Breakups always suck, and this one is hardly an exception, but singledom feels so natural to me– truly being the master of my own life, my schedule, my activities and, perhaps most importantly, with whom I spend my time.
I’ve never understood how some of my friends could hop quickly from one relationship to the next with barely any time in between to find themselves again. I always find myself needing more alone time than usual after a breakup, time I often refer to as “recalibration.” It’s not only that you need to figure out who you are independent of the relationship, but you need to figure out who you are after the relationship. Every relationship we have, no matter how short, changes us. Some teach us what not to do, some inspire us, but either way we are changed, even if in only subtle ways.
I’ve learned a lot of what not to do this time around, but I also feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself, and that, being the “free spirit” I am, maybe the standard courtship mold doesn’t work for me. After all, I really love living on my own, I don’t know that I want to move in with someone else, get married and start a family. Maybe down the road, but right now I want to just meet interesting people and have great connections. I don’t need a marriage end game, even though it’s a lot less illegal for me now. (Bye, bye DOMA!)
Anyhow, it’s good to be back. I’ve missed blogging a lot, and I felt so out of place not being my single self, even though it was nice to feel a little bit “normal” for a hot minute. And I can’t forget the love I’ve shared, even though things were hardly perfect most of the time. I try to hold on to the good and let the rest fall away, but it takes time.
Cheers to Single Life!
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.
I’ve come to notice over time that in some ways, being LGBTQ and single carries some additional stigma to it than if you’re a single heterosexual. I don’t mean to say that we don’t all experience loneliness equally, or that women whatever their orientation don’t get a bad rap (“spinster,” “old maid,” etc.), but we still have some very pervasive cultural myths about gay people, and when you’re single, this makes you a suspicious gay person. Allow me to elaborate.
In the 40+ years since the Stonewall Riots, gays and lesbians in America have made leaps and bounds towards equality. The last four years in particular have been very fruitful: We saw “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed, the Obama administration stopped defending the dreaded “Defense of Marriage Act,” and last November at the ballot box we gained 3 more states that have marriage equality (bringing us up to 9 nationwide!) and saw an attempt to ban same-sex marriage shot down. The wheels of change have been put in motion, and we are not going back!
But, amidst all this excitement and progress, it’s easy to forget that we were demonized as deviants and pedophiles not that long ago and, alas, in some parts of the world still are. One need look no further than Uganda, and the continual push there for a “Kill the Gays” bill, to know that we are NOT out of the woods yet. I mean, heck, look at the Civil Rights Movement and Feminism– how many years have they been at it? And black men are still arrested at an astronomical rate in comparison to the number actually committing crimes, and women are still raped with impunity while her rapists feel free to post pictures and video of the assault all over the Internet. It would be fair to say that none of us are out of the woods– unless you happen to be a wealthy, white, straight guy (sorry wealthy, white, straight guy allies– I believe you exist!).
And, of course, I do not believe the fight for queer rights is anywhere near over until we get things done for our trans* brothers and sisters. I mean, if you’re trans* in America, you aren’t even guaranteed the right to employment or shelter. In fact, for many years I’ve been frustrated how hard the queer community has been pushing for marriage equality in particular. Don’t get me wrong– I think marriage equality IS a civil right and both should and will happen eventually… but I can’t help thinking we’re pushing too hard and too early. Too hard, considering how many other basics LGBTQ peoples are denied and, no offense, but marriage equality doesn’t do much to help the single gay guy who got evicted for the horrendous crime of being himself. Too early, because it feels like we’re trying to get rights by coming in the back door (no pun intended). If the general public doesn’t yet accept queer people as being a naturally occurring part of humanity, if we don’t have the right to live, work and serve unmolested, then going for marriage equality seems like jumping the gun, doesn’t it?
There are few things in this world that make me as livid as seeing someone denied the right to see their spouse/partner in the hospital, or having their children taken away because their partner died and their relationship was not recognized under the law in that state, but I can’t help worrying that pushing this hard for marriage equality is going to eventually lead to a hierarchy of gay relationships. Oh yes. There may one day soon become the “good gays”– you know, the ones who get married at “act straight”– and the “bad gays” who are unmarried and by virtue of being unmarried take up the mantel of negative stereotypes against gays, like that we’re inherently promiscuous. Suddenly, being a single queer person isn’t just stigmatized the same ways we stigmatize all single people, but all the negative stereotypes we’ve ever held about gays get dumped on the “bad” single gays.
Take this fabulously dated PSA, circa 1950s, about homosexuals “on the prowl”–Boys Beware!in “Louis Theroux – A Place for Pedophiles (FULL)” on Youtube, so all you FUCKS who deny the idea can listen to your fellows ADMIT IT FULLY and WITHOUT GUILT….”
I have no doubt that some pedophiles are gay. Just like I have no doubt that some murderers, rapists and thieves are gay, female, of color, etc. Every group has its rotten apples, it’s the nature of humanity, unfortunately. But it’s NOT the other way around. Just because one, or many, young white men take up arms and become mass murderers, I don’t see anyone condemning all young, white men. Granted, this is largely because of the privilege of the patriarchy, but it’s correct in that NOT all young, white men are mass murderers and we can’t just condemn them all because of a few bad apples. Likewise, you can’t condemn all minorities for the actions of a few within the group, but this happens every damn day.
Oh, and regarding pedophiles, what does the evidence say?
“Using phallometric test sensitivities to calculate the proportion of true pedophiles among various groups of sex offenders against children, and taking into consideration previously reported mean numbers of victims per offender group, the ratio of heterosexual to homosexual pedophiles was calculated to be approximately 11:1.” -From The proportions of heterosexual and homosexual pedophiles among sex offenders against children: An exploratory study
So don’t tell me how most pedophiles are gay, regardless how many acts of pedophilia may be “homosexual acts,” many of those men readily identify as heterosexual.
But this is the kind of crap you get to look forward to being gay and single. You will be seen as a predator, a pedophile, as promiscuous and incapable of having a long-term relationship. People will always think you’re trying to recruit them or hit on them. And heaven forbid you enjoy genderbending or drag– that’s a whole new level of perverted! (For the record as a Drag King, I don’t want a penis– I love the pearly, pink detachable one I already have, thanks.) Sure, some kinksters are gay. But the vast majority of the population is straight, and likewise, the vast majority of kinksters are straight. Maybe a higher percentage of queers are kinky, but I think that has a lot more to do with the fact that, at some point, you had to explore your sexuality because you figured out you weren’t straight, and I think this can lead to more open-mindedness about kink, for example.
I digress. But my point is simple: Different strokes for different folks, you can’t paint us all with the same brush because of that one experience you had that one time. $50 says that guy wasn’t even hitting on you, but kudos on being incredibly vain. 99% of gay people have no interested in “turning” straight people, the same way you would likely not be interested in someone of the opposite sex who was in no way attracted to you.
So I dedicate this post to all my single queers out there, who deal with an extra mountain of bullshit just because of who you happen to Love. Kudos to you, and keep on doing what you’re doing; living your life to the fullest despite all the haters. We’ll need your strength for the coming battles.
I’m starting to wonder if the trouble with relationships isn’t simply, well, relationships. Or, to put it another way, becoming too comfortable with another person.
Right now I’m learning a new language, and even in just the first three class sessions we’ve spent a considerable amount of time talking about the difference between addressing someone formally versus informally. All languages and societies that I’m aware of have these rules of decorum and politeness. When you meet someone for the first time, you’re suppose to speak formally to them, usually until they give you permission to do otherwise or you two become close.
But it feels like once we get close to someone, that’s when we start taking them for granted.
Think about how you act when you’re in a brand new relationship. I don’t mean the butterflies and the almost constant sex, there’s that too, but I mean how you treat the other person. In the beginning, you’re much more likely to do thoughtful things for them, go out of your way just to make them smile, and even send them little notes to let them know you’re thinking about them. Now, I’m not saying these things disappear as the relationship ages, but they become much fewer and far between or are reserved for special occasions (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.).
Emotionally speaking, I think we become more careless as time goes on. A new couple hangs on each other’s every word, frequently wants to know what the other person is thinking, and is highly aware of the other’s emotional state and, perhaps more to the point, how your actions affect your partner. But with time, we seem to become less aware of how our behavior impacts the relationship. And, sadly, in some cases we outright start to abuse one another.
I can’t help thinking of my best friend. For years, we were as close as partners without the sexual element. We lived together, commuted together, took vacations together; at one point, we even started discussing what it might be like for two very close friends to raise a family together. Weird, maybe, but we loved each other dearly. For those years, there was no one in the world I trusted more, and the verse was true for him as well. We knew each other’s deepest, darkest secrets and had seen each other at our best and our worst. In other words, nothing was sacred anymore.
I never thought much about how we interacted, until he fell madly in love with someone. Sure, he suddenly didn’t have much time for me anymore, but that’s predictable new-relationship behavior. He didn’t have time for anybody but his girl. But people began to approach me and comment on how he spoke to me–namely, that he was rude and even talked down to me like a parent might to a child. I thought folks were exaggerating that they just didn’t understand our relationship, until I saw him with this girl he was nuts about.
Goodness. He hung on her every word, practically licking the ground she walked upon. It was almost embarrassing to witness. Things he would politely ask her, “Sweetie, can you bring in the dishes from the living room?” he would simply command me, “Jade, pick up your shit already!” He was softer with her, kinder, and a hell of a lot more tactful.
Familiarity, I suppose, is a double-edged sword. On the upside, you get to know someone and that can be really cool! But on the downside, we take each other for granted and sometimes forget to even be kind to one another.
Now, granted, the example I give is a friendship versus a potential relationship, and you definitely suck up to folks you want to fuck. In that way, I may be comparing apples and oranges, but I’ve had the same exact experience within romantic relationships, the example of my best friend is simply the starkest.
My current relationship is no different. In the beginning, we were careful with each other, kind and considerate. Now we seem to bulldoze each other’s emotions like it’s going out of style. No concern for how our actions might affect one another, it seems we’ve retreated into concern for our own needs and nothing more. I know we both frequently feel disrespected, and I certainly feel belittled on a regular basis. Is this how we treat people we Love? It makes no sense…
But, what my experience with my best friend taught me is something I think is true of all types of relationships, friendships, romances, family, etc.. What I learned there was that it’s often the people we Love the most that we take the most for granted. We just expect them to be there, like they always have been, with no effort on our part. But if the people we Love feel unappreciated, disrespected or, heck, even obsolete… then they won’t stick around for very long.
In all fairness, I’m basing this on personal experiences which means it could just be me. Maybe I’m just the kind of person people talk down to. Even most closest friends tell me I have a tendency to be a doormat, often for the sake of niceness, in my mind. I’m trying to usher some of that crap out of my life, but I have a hard time refusing to help someone when they ask for it I don’t have a “good” reason to turn them down. Perhaps this is why I feel taken for granted so often.
So I’d love some more anecdotal data on this one. What have been your experiences, dear reader? Does familiarity breed carelessness? Or are people only as careless as you let them be?
Let’s be transparent about it: I’m wary of relationships. Anyone who’s been alive more then 3 years probably is. After all, people hurt each other. And, as my best friend says, “A big front has a big back.” In the case relationships or love, the more you invest and the more pleasure you get from the whole experience, the greater devastation you’re risking yourself should it come to an end.
So, the person who’s toasting to his “forever love of forever” has been dating this gal for about 18 months. Year and a half… forever, same difference, right? It’s why we let 18-month-old’s drive cars. But the string of responses just amused the hell out of me. The first couple of responses are folks chiming in with their own relationship fodder–anything to talk about ourselves, right? But then my kindred spirits come out of the woodwork, and I’m comforted by the few folks gagging and making “Your Mom” jokes to combat the 40+ likes this post already got.
Oh well. I hope this friend isn’t disappointed down the road of whatever is to become of his “forever love of forever.” But I’m going to do my best to focus on what’s right here, right now. I have to let my Love fuel me. Whether I’ve convinced myself it’s the mystical “forever love” or any of the other, equally as worthy forms of showing Love towards another person, I’ve got to give all I can now and not worry about who I’ll have to Love later.
Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!
Now, don’t get me wrong. Love is a wonderful thing, and I truly believe that only ideas and actions based in Love can be truthful. But somewhere along the line, especially for us English speakers, it seems that we all forgot there’s more than one type of Love. It’s not just Love is what you feel for that person who gives you a raging boner– after all, that could just be infatuation. No, there are so many different kinds of Love. Love for your country, Love for your family, Love for an animal, Love for Ingrid Michaelson (or any musician– but how can you not love her?). The list goes on and on and on and on.
But we get particularly caught up in this idea of romantic Love. And I get why. Who doesn’t love that new relationship energy, when everything is puppy dogs and kitten rainbows? And, as someone who’s libido is straight up going to waste at the moment, I get the sex part too. But Sex is NOT Love. I think sex can be super, extra special if it’s with someone you Love, but sex is just sex. You don’t have to fuck someone to Love them, and you don’t have to Love them to fuck ’em.
But, hey, if we’re all consenting adults, what’s the big deal?
Perhaps there isn’t one. But this entry is dedicated to all my fallen comrades. To the once ostentatious dreamers, who have given it all up for the chance at domestic bliss.
I first started to realize I was actually losing friends to Love back in college. I moved in with a new roommate, and one of my close friends quickly fell for her. It was messy, their get together, since she was in a long distance relationship at the time, but after a lot of angst they became a couple. And suddenly I only saw my roommate every other morning, when she came by to pick up clean clothes. This phenomenon, the first way in which we lose people to Love, is something my friends and I have coined “Girlfriend/Boyfriend Island:” that period of time when a relationship is new and you can’t get a hold of your twitterpated friend, by phone or any other method, and they literally seem to have run away to an island somewhere.
Fortunately, this stage usually wears off, but it can take up to a year and for some, it doesn’t seem to wear off ever. But once you’ve gotten your friend back from the Island, you start to notice that they spend more time hanging out with other couples than they do their single friends and, as a result, you’re seeing a lot less of them. This is where you actually start to wonder if your friend has been body-snatched, because something just isn’t right.
The length of this Couples-centric stage depends on the person. For some, it’s transitional like the Couples Island, but for others it’s a lifelong shift into the world of coupledom and coupled privilege.
But none of this scares me. None of this is why I think there are true “casualties” in Love. Remember the couple I mentioned before that got together when I was in college? Well, they’re still together, got married last year, actually. I went; it was a lovely ceremony and I was genuinely happy for them. But it was a mournful day, too, because of what they both gave up in being together.
A few years after they’d gotten together, after college graduation, we were all living in the same city and the lovely couple invited me over for dinner. We had a nice time, but I noticed something… off, about them both. Namely, neither of them had anything to talk about. I must’ve gotten asked 10 times over the course of three hours, “So what’s new with you?” I was confused. Sure, they’re both responsible people, working to save money and, in her case, working towards her doctorate. But something was missing in both of them. A certain spark I didn’t see anymore.
He used to be the biggest dreamer of them all. The stage, the lights, the audience– he was going to be a star. Now he’s content to sell furniture to snobs downtown. Her love of school was always legendary, but being a foreign language student, she once had plans to travel all over, live in different parts of the world, soak up the culture. She’s abandoned all of that now, because her husband doesn’t speak anything besides English.
I was torn. Here were two people who I cared about very deeply, and they seemed to be truly happy together, just being domestic. Yet, I could still see the tattered dreams under their feet, and I sincerely am not sure whether to be joyful for them or to mourn was has been lost, possibly forever. Both of these once vibrant people had become mellow, predictable and, at times, kind of boring, as a couple.
I know Love comes at a cost. I know because I’ve had to make that kind of choice before: Marriage or my future? Before I came out, I was dating a straight guy. It was long distance, and we were together for four years, but I ended things towards the close of my freshman year in college. It wasn’t for lack of Love. It was because I saw my future shriveling up before my eyes. He wanted me to move to another country and marry him as soon as I was finished with undergraduate school. And while I Loved him, and wanted nothing more than to be near him, I couldn’t make that leap. I couldn’t throw away all my possibilities. Without him in the picture, I could do anything after graduation! I could join the Peace Corps, or go to graduate school, or travel the country making money as a street musician– anything was possible. But with him? My destiny was set. I would get married, be a mother, and settle down. No changing the world, no Jules Verne type adventures, just predictability.
To this day, I still Love him, but I chose Possibility.
I say this all with one of my best friend’s weddings looming before me. In a few short months, I’m supposed to give a fabulous toast to their Love. But what do I say when I feel like I lost my friend to the relationship he’s in? Back in the day, when it was just him and I, we were going to take on the world together– and change it. We sat on the subway talking about every grand thing we were going to do, and there was no ceiling as far as our dreams were concerned. He was exuberant and opinionated, to the point of being bossy at times, but I loved that he was just unabashedly him, and no one could stop it.
Or so I thought… Then, one day, he disappeared to Girlfriend Island. Two years later, he still hasn’t come back. What kills me, though, is that he is not the same person. Where he was once loud and proud and in charge, now he’s meek and accommodating. I’d call him a house-husband, since he does all the cleaning and the cooking and caring for the house, but he’s also supporting his fiancee with his full-time job while she dicks around in graduate school. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say he’s been house broken. Where he once spoke of changing the world, now all he can think of are linen colors for the wedding and babies for afterwards.
And then they went a got matching tattoos. Not little ones, either. Enormous, colorful, sure as hell expensive, matching tattoos. I mean, for one, this is but one way to guarantee it won’t work out. Relationship tatts are generally a terrible idea. But I think what got me is that, once upon a time, my BFF and I said that after we’ve known each other for 10 years, we’ll get some kind of inside-joke, correlating tattoos. We’ve known each other for 8 years. He and his fiancee? Not quite 2. Suddenly, I don’t want that tattoo anymore.
So on the surface, my friend seems happy. And if he’s happy, I’m happy for him. It’s just a little hard to swallow that he’s happy and everything is utterly perfect when, for one, all his friends are her friends and he doesn’t have any of his own where they’re living now, and, more the point, he is literally a vastly different person since they got together. I mean, he went from extrovert, always being the center-of-attention, to being some kind of doting, lovesick wallflower.
And so I take this moment, to pause from the seemingly endless celebration of coupledom, to mourn our fallen comrades. To mourn the opportunities lost, the dreams abandoned, and the personalities forever altered in pursuit of “The One,” a fictional concept there to push the idea that you’re not perfect just the way you are.
Well let me tell you–you’re perfect and complete, exactly as you are. Whether you’re single or in a couple, don’t give up on yourself for another person.