Tag Archives: singledom

Aziz Ansari Captures Why it Sucks to be Single Today

He has a point. Texting has really dumbed down our social interactions.

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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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Diminished

Have you ever heard the saying, “A candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle”?  It’s a beautiful quote, author unknown, that speaks volumes to me about community, helping our neighbors, and giving for the sake of it.  But that’s probably because I’m a bleeding heart who works in the non-profit sector.  

But what if we applied this concept to Love? I would argue that right now, we don’t.  The model we’re peddle from day one thanks to companies like Disney is that somewhere out there this is a magical person who is your missing other half and all you have to do is find them! There are only 7 billion people on Earth, so how hard can that be? True love awaits!  

If you’ve been reading my blog for more than 5 minutes, then you already know I think this idea is bullocks.  There are just too many people in the world and too much love to be shared to say that we each have ONE person who’s our soulmate, ONE person who will be right for us for our whole lives through and ONE person whom will provide us with everything we need.  It sounds like a fairy tale because it IS a fairy tale.  

People ebb and flow in our lives.  Some leave as quickly as they arrived, others stay in it for the long haul, their involvement in our lives varying over time as we grow up, grow apart and come back together again.  I think of parents, for example.  No one would deny the important of their parents in their lives (for better or for worse), but most of us don’t talk to them every day.  We might even have friends that are our parents’ ages.  Does this mean we’ve replaced our parents? Does this mean we don’t care about them or love them?  Of course not.  When you’re 5, you spend every waking moment with your mother.  When you’re 25, you’re probably dodging her Sunday morning calls so she doesn’t know how hungover you are.  Our relationships change and evolve over time, but they are not somehow less important because they change. 

So back to my original question… what if we shared our love freely and weren’t ruled by ugly emotions such as envy and jealousy? Why do we hold onto this concept that by virtue of sharing our love, it is somehow diminished? 

It’s a insidious little thought, one that permeates every part of our culture.  The whole concept of “purity” or virginity is based on this idea– that you should only share yourself with ONE person, and if you share yourself with more than one person, you yourself are diminished– you, yourself, are worth less than you previously were.  Well I call shenanigans on this purity bullshit and all it entails.  Whatever higher power gave me this body also imbued me with bodily autonomy.  As long as I am sharing my love, and not hurting anyone, as long as I am consensually giving of myself, how am I diminishing myself?  The more I love, the stronger I feel, it just doesn’t add up.  

So if you’re a purist or a fundamentalist, if you think a woman’s worth is directly related to her virgnity, this is simply where we part ways.  I will never believe that a person’s worth is in any way tied to their virginity, regardless of gender, and frankly I find any other assertion disgusting.  We are more than the sum of our experiences, more than a series of actions taken or acted upon us.   Human beings are beautiful, complex creatures and I can’t think of anything much more meaningless than the number of people you’ve had sex with.  Like most numbers, it’s just used to shame.  Throw it out!  Love all, shame none. This is a SHAME-FREE ZONE.  

Over the years I’ve had run-ins with polyamory, as it were.  I used to say I just kept falling for people who identified as poly, but at some point I have take a closer examination of the fact that I keep gravitating towards people who identify as polyamorous.  Note: polyamory as in “many loves,” not polygamy as in many spouses.  (Which isn’t to say I’m against polygamy, but it’s not quite what I’m talking about.  Culturally speaking, polygamy is often tied to certain religious beliefs, while polyamory is basically the creation of many thoughtful, ethical sluts.)  

Recently I met someone who just awes me in so many ways, perhaps most profoundly in how much love he has to give.  He is, indeed, polyamorous and he has complete understanding of the idea that one relationship need not take away from another.  We are force-fed the idea of of monogamy (along with the marriage and picket fence end game) and the concept of relationship hierarchy.  And this is where I see a lot of new-to-poly folks fall into a trap.  They might’ve gotten rid of the monogamy thought, but not the hierarchy, and that will cause serious problems if you are juggling more than one romantic relationship at a time.  Trust me.  

But what if we throw both ideas out?  No more hierarchy, no more “primary partner” or “one and only”, just love.  Just love given freely.  It seemed so simple when it first hit me.  That jealousy is beyond pointless.  That I can love someone and have a deep and unique connection with them– and it doesn’t diminish what we have for me to love others, or for them to love others.  If anything, you’re just making the pie bigger.  More love, no shame, no jealousy, no competition.  I’m not saying it’s easy, especially when we’ve been taught the only way to be special to someone is to segregate them from all others.  But that’s not the way.  That sounds more like keeping a pet than loving a person, to me.  I mean, heck, even my cats are allowed to socialize.  

So I ask again, how is my Love diminished by sharing it with more people?  Knowledge is strengthened by spreading it around, I don’t see why Love is any different. 

Just use a condom.  Seriously, be safe.  

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End Game

Thanks to prolonged peer pressure from some of my coworkers, I finally caved in and watched Orange is the New Black, which I highly recommend.  For those who are unfamiliar, the show is based on the memoir of Piper Kerman about her time in a women’s prison.  The show itself is rife with prison and lesbian drama and while I certainly wouldn’t call it a comedy, it has it’s lighter moments.

Towards the end of season one, Piper asks her on-again-off-again lover what exactly the “end game” of their relationship is.  That is, are they going to move to Vermont and have a baby, or will they hop around the globe from one fabulous party to another, free-falling through life? These are but two lesbian stereotypes in an ocean of possibility, of course, but the point is clear: Most of us date because we’re in search of a particular end game.  And, for many of us, that looks like monogamous marriage with kids and, yes, a white picket fence.

I’m not knocking marriage or monogamy, but I don’t know what the rush is to get to the end of the game.   I mean, the world we live in is such that many people live into their 80s, 90s and beyond– so why the rush to pop out a kid by 25? Why the need to plan your wedding when you’re not even engaged? Why the insistence on labeling a relationship (and the associated expectations) so quickly? What ever happened to living in the moment?

I reconnected with someone a few weeks ago who’s company I’ve been thoroughly enjoying.  I guess it would be fair to say we’ve been enjoying each other.  It’s rare, at least in my experience, to find someone you’re just comfortable being with– where silences are just silences without the awkward, where looking at one another is endlessly engaging, where you’re free to be yourself, whatever that looks like.  But that’s how it’s been with us.  We sincerely like each other, we enjoy spending time together, and beyond that their are no expectations.

I think it’s kind of perfect, actually.  I love adding interesting and passionate people to my life, so why not do so without worrying about labels?  Why not enjoy the company of those around you without concerning yourself with where you’ll all be in ten years?  Not everyone sees it that way, though.

One of my closest friends is getting married next Spring, and unlike me she’s all about the wedding planning.  But she’s also all about monogamous marriage and sincerely doesn’t seem to understand that I am not worried about the long-term right now.  My last relationship was all about the long-term, empty promises and sweet nothings.  I don’t want any more of that… but the idea that maybe I changed my mind, that maybe I was wrong about what I wanted (a long-term committed relationship, for example) and just want to have fun in the NOW is very foreign to my soon-to-be-bride friend.

To use an analogy, our conversations feel like this lately:

Me: Oh wow! Look at this delicious cake! I’m so going to eat this cake! 
Friend: NO! Don’t eat the cake! You might get diabetes in 10 years! 
Me: Yeah, but, I want cake right now and right now I don’t have diabetes. 
Friend: But you have to plan for your future! 
Me: … *shoves cake in her mouth* 

I know she’s concerned that I might get hurt (that’s a risk you take when you put your heart in anything, I’m prepared for the consequences), and that she’s concerned because she cares about me but… it almost feels like concern trolling.  Even worse, it feels like she’s condescending to me.  I tell her about how happy I am and she says things like, “That’s so nice” as though what I’m doing is some kind of quaint placeholder until I wise up and go on a husband (wife?) hunt.

But what I’ve realized is that I don’t need to hunt– I don’t need another person to complete me or make my life work, and my life is full of dear friends who love me very much.  While sometimes it’s hard to separate the peer pressure (thanks, Facebook) from my actual wants and desires, I’m finally starting to accept that maybe I don’t want what most people seem to want, and maybe there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  After all, I have a lot of love to give, who says I need to give it all in the same place?

I came across this comment on an article recently and it really resonated with me: “As mentioned above, I’m older. I do NOT want to get married or have kids. The best relationships that I’ve ever had consisted of sex and dinner a few times a week, peppered with intense conversations and some social outings as a couple. I’m fairly self-sufficient, and don’t really WANT someone who is too deeply ingrained in my daily routine. I’ve been accused of everything from being a heartless bitch to a total evil slutsicle for articulating this.”

Well, I’m “younger” by many standards, but otherwise I feel very similar.  I don’t want to get married, and while I do want kids someday, that’s something I’m really not going to start thinking about for at least 5 more years.  I love having my own place and I don’t want to move in with anyone or infuse myself into their daily routine.  But I do want fun and great sex and intense conversations with someone with whom I share a sincere connection… yeah, I guess that does make us sluts, Internet Sister.   At least by the standards of the penis-barers.   (This is one of many reasons why I only sleep with feminists, no joke.)

Suddenly, English is failing me yet again.  How does one even refer to the types of connections I’m talking about?  The rhetoric we have surrounding dating and relationships reinforces the idea that the end game is, should and shall always be marriage, kids, house, dog, fence, etc.   If you’re “dating,” it’s for the hope that you’ll turn out to be great life partners and decide to get married.   I could effectively say I’m dating right now, since I’m going out on dates and having fun, but my end goal isn’t a long-term relationship and that’s the expectation with “dating.”  It’s a kind of courtship, at least it’s assumed to be.  So how do I say I’m non-exclusively dating and not looking for a spouse?  What a mouthful.   No wonder I’m a quirkyalone.

My friend says, “I’m just concerned that there is potential for you to fall madly in love with someone who won’t give you everything you want in life.” and I can’t help but laugh out loud.  Is this a common sentiment– that we’re supposed to get “everything we want in life” from ONE person– one person who isn’t even ourselves?  It’s just so ludicrous, I have to laugh.  If I’ve learned anything from my last relationship, it’s that making yourself happy is crucial and it’s nobody else’s responsibility but your own.  When we depend solely on others to make us happy or “give us what we want,” we’re not only setting ourselves up for failure, we’re being outright unfair.   I don’t know any psychics  so I’ve always found it good practice to ask for the things you want or need from others, rather than waiting for them to figure it out and pout passively in the meantime.  But I’m single and unmarried– what could I possible know about relationships?

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Recalibration

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! 

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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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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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Forever

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.

Or when it comes to end, I should say.  All relationships end.  Some do make it “till death do [they] part,” but most relationships will end much sooner than that for any number of reasons. Some ends are amicable, others complete blood baths.  I’ve had my share of both.  Nothing I’m saying here is remarkable, we all know it, right? Then why are we risking our hearts? Assuming we put heart into it– which is frankly the one way that seems at all worthwhile to me. But we do it anyway.  Time after time, failure after failure, we keep looking and trying and, more than likely, losing.  And it was never entirely our fault or entirely the fault of the other person.  Though, more than likely, we underestimated our power to change the relationship. Some are just bad ideas from the get-go.

But why? What, exactly, are we looking for? It’s not the risk of heartache that makes me wary of relationships.  Pain doesn’t scare me.  It’s that many of us are looking for “forever.”  Which is asking A LOT.  I’ve promised forever to some people.  I love them still, that’s true, but it sure as hell didn’t last forever.  I don’t really see it in the nature of relationships to last “forever.”  Even if it’s death that has to part you.  The Earth will still be spinning long after humans are extinct and all traces of our existence erased (save fossils), so what kind of absurd thing is it to say “forever” to someone, regarding your feelings and your relationships? Humans aren’t known for their stability of emotions, for one. But I guess “right now” or “as long as it lasts” isn’t quite as romantic as “forever.”

We turn again to Facebook.  Now, I know I talk about Facebook a lot, and it’s because I think Facebook is a fascinating place to study relationships.  I have my relationship status turned off because I hate that everyone has something to say when/if it changes… but it’s intriguing to watch how it plays out on other people’s profiles.  This image is just brilliant to me.  I couldn’t have made up something better:

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.

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Please don’t ask…

The other night I was hanging out at the local studio and gallery I volunteer for.  It’s a multifaceted space, but most of the crew is composed of queers.  I was sitting working on some paperwork when two friends came in.  Dykes, both of ’em; one a regular crew member and the other is dating our artistic director.  (The two lovebirds have really been at it lately–twitterpated to the max–which would normally bug the shit out of me, to be honest, but I’m actually really happy for them, so it kind of negates the weird inferiority feelings.)

Anyhow, the gals are shooting the breeze, and suddenly I hear it–the question single people dread more than any other: “So what’s new in your love life?”  The other girl started talking about this lady she’s interested in and how that’s been progressing.  No big deal, nothing shocking.  But I was only sitting a few feet away, trying my best to be inconspicuous.  I could feel my stomach tying itself into hideous knots as I prayed and prayed that they wouldn’t turn to me and ask me the same question.

It’s as though I can literally feel the thorn in my side everytime someone asks me this question.  Close friends of mine have been known to ask me multiple time a week, which just feels like rubbing salt in the wound.  Really? You think my single status has been updated since yesterday? Or have we just truly run out of things to talk about?

Fortunately, the ladies moved on their conversation without dropping the question on me.  But it’s still baffling me how visceral my reaction to the sheer thought of being asked that question was.  I was getting activated the same way someone does when they have to fight, flight or freeze in the face of an immediate threat.  Somehow this looming question seemed like an immediate threat.

But really, how ridiculous is that? How have we gotten to that point? I’m sure there are single people out there who are not fazed by this question, but I know there are many others that fear it just like I do.  It should just be a query about one’s life, not much different than asking someone “So how’s work going?” Instead, though, it feels like a misplaced victory lap.  Maybe it’s just that most of my friends are coupled, but this is not a question single people ever ask me.  Only coupled friends ask about my love life, and even though I (assume) they don’t mean it that way, it feels condescending.  “How’s your love life? Oh right! You don’t have one! Haha!”

And all I can ask myself is, “When did we become enemies?” We’re all human beings and it shouldn’t matter if we’re with someone romantically or we’re not, but it does.  Somewhere along the line we made it matter, made it mean something, when it reality it’s a value-neutral fact.  You’re single or you’re not, so what?  The same way that the word “fat” is value-neutral.  I’m fat.  I have fat on my body.  That’s not me putting myself down.  But we think someone is putting themselves down when they say they’re fat because we’ve stigmatized fatness.  We’ve made fat mean that you’re also lazy, unhealthy and unattractive.  None of those things are inherently true.  None of them.  Fat is fat, body size is body size, health is health.  There’s no causal link between them.  But when people take it upon themselves to moo at fat people on the street, give them unsolicited health advice, or even tell them they should go kill themselves, then we’ve made it mean something else.

And single is no different.  By itself, single is just single.  There are pros and cons, just like pros and cons to being in a couple, but it doesn’t say anything about you inherently.  But we’ve made it mean something.  We’ve made it mean that you’re lacking, broken, unlovable, too picky, stuck-up or a loner.  And in this context, suddenly it’s not so hard to see why a question like “So what’s new in your love life?” feels like a very real threat.

So my question to you, dear reader, is how can we end this war? How do we stop seeing each other as single or coupled, fat or skinny, gay or straight, and just see each other as human beings with thoughts and feelings just like everyone else?  How do we see past the labels and start loving each other instead of all this comparing we do?

What if we stopped thinking of “love life” as meaning romantic love? What if “love life” meant all the love you give to other people, romantic or otherwise (which, thanks to English, we forget there are many, MANY other kinds of love besides sexual or romantic love)? If we thought of it that way, and all made a point of making sure our love lives were active–that we’re giving our love to someone, somewhere–I think the world would be a much more hopefully place.

So go and give your love away.

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