Monday, June 12, 2017

All My Friends Are In Relationships And I'm Still Single

"I give up on relationships," I say, lamenting my lack of banal relationship drama so wonderfully evident between Wei-Wei and Daniel. Without skipping a beat, Wei-Wei retorts, "That's dumb."

I'm nineteen. I can't give up already, can I?

This post has been a long time in the making, but the issue really came to a head last night when I found out my roommate has a girlfriend. I'm in a new city, I don't know a lot of people, and at the very least I was hoping to be able to hang out with my roommate and explore DC. But nope, she spends her evenings Skyping her SO. Cue me going to bed and reading articles on being happily single (and yes being single is great, but more on that later). A heads up, this post is going to be long and rambly because I've tried to edit it so many times, so I'm putting it under a cut.

I personally don't have much experience with relationships, this year initiating my first faltering forays into a few failed flings. I don't understand my own patterns of attraction or sexuality; asexual seems to fit the best but doesn't entirely feel right. As I tend to completely avoid the things I do not understand, this does not bode well for my future relationship endeavors.
the state of being connected
Maybe I'm bitter when I scoff that love is overrated. At the superficial level, it is — grandiose and cutesy gestures are irrelevant without a sense of mutual respect and understanding. But there's much more to a relationship than roses and chocolate. It's about wanting to be with someone because their presence is preferable to their absence, and wanting to stay dedicated for the sake of emotional or physical security and stability. To augment the dictionary definition, a relationship is people in the state of being connected to each other and being better for it than if they were apart. I think that's the essence of a real relationship: a person who makes me better, and reciprocally I support them as well. It's not about being perfect on your own or needing each other, it's about being complementary, like cookies and milk. Cookies are fine by themselves, milk is fine by itself, but they're better together because they enhance each other.

Unfortunately, in search of that complement, I have developed the problem of making a person of interest into a bigger deal than they are. I find myself adhering to a strict checklist of initial criteria and high standards. I don't want to waste time. If I already have a foreseeable reason for why I think something could end unhappily through an inherent quality of the other person, I don't think there is a point in trying, because that's only setting myself up for inevitable disappointment. Once I find someone who meets these criteria, I obsess, mostly in my head, but somehow this semester, that attraction was reciprocated.

I was surprised when it didn't work out. My careful weighing of compatibility of strengths and weaknesses couldn't account for the entirety of an autonomous human being. At the same time I wasn't surprised. It was only an eye opening experience to see what I did to someone else now happening to me (#vagueblogging). It's not a crime to want physical intimacy while craving someone else emotionally. It's not a good thing to do, but we're all flawed. Sometimes it's ok to revel in our flaws.

Honestly I don't know if I'd be happy in a real relationship. I'm too independent and selfish, and fully aware of it. I also play an active part keep sabotaging any potential relationships because of some fundamental understanding that I don't deserve to be loved (I have my parents to thank for that; even though I know it's not true, it's hard to unlearn an entire childhood's worth of conditioning). Moreover, if one's idea of love comes from one's relationship in early childhood to one's parents, I think my current aversion to relationships is in part due to my aversion to my relationship with my parents and being treated like an object rather than a person.

I don't need anyone else, but I'd like to be with someone to share my life with. Maybe I'm incapable of forming genuine emotional/romantic attachments and this is all a facade. Maybe I'm just bored. Week after week I end up with nothing to do on a Friday night. It would be nice to have someone who's willing to prioritize making plans with me. I'm not lonely, I'm just alone.

I'm still sad that it didn't work out. It's not that I should feel bad about being sad, but I'm also not upset at the other person. That's utterly unrealistic and almost toxic to expect otherwise — that someone would be perfect for you and being upset when they're not. My only fear is that none of it was genuine and he doesn't care about me as a person but again, I can't complain because I've done that to someone else. But it's not a big deal! Relationships end all the time for no reason at all. As much as I was willing to put in the effort if he were willing, I decided that I don't want to wait on someone who can't make up their mind. If it does end up being that there was nothing at all, that's his flaw, not a reflection of me. I'd feel disappointed for wasting my time and attention on someone who doesn't care about me back otherwise.

I had a conversation with two of my friends and realized that I don't really want a relationship, but sometimes I can't help but feel left out. It would be nice to be able to relate to my friends in terms of relationship status, so therefore either have another friend who is single or have a relationship myself. I'm otherwise perfectly content with being single. I doubt I'd be as upset about being single right now if I even had one friend who was also not in a relationship and revels in singledom as much as I do. But those are few and far between so the alternative is a relationship to guarantee a friend who is not in a relationship with another person.

At the end of the day, I don't want to be alone. While I don't need a relationship, it would be nice. A relationship for me would make me feel happier and fulfilled in the sense that ideally I would have someone who I can talk to and feel unquestionable trust, not because I can't question it, but because I don't need to. If someone is rude or their sense of humor makes me uncomfortable, that's not something I can accept, both initially and in the long run. It would be nice to have someone I can argue with and not feel judged. Maybe detailing what I want is a selfish take on relationships, but then again, mutual desirability is preferred, and probably a big part of the reason why I avoid someone until I have a clear indication that they like me too. Until I feel entirely comfortable committing without feeling like I'm giving anything up as an individual, I'll have to accept being alone. ◊

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