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Single By Choice?

Published January 6, 2014 by auddity

Happy New Year! I took an unintentional hiatus, but one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to get back into this blog. I love writing it and I hope some people out there still enjoy reading it! Anyway, here’s to 2014. I’m coming back with a vengeance!

You know what’s a really stupid question? I mean, besides that one. When I tell someone I’m single and they ask me if it’s by choice. What the hell kind of question is that?! Oh yes, I get marriage proposals all the time, but I shrug them off because I’m single by choice. I understand where the question comes from, but it really puts a lot of pressure on me to answer positively. Because who wants to admit that they are single not by choice? If I absolutely must dignify that question with an answer, I usually go with “Kind of,” or “Yes and no,” but it’s really a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation. If I say yes, then while I may come off as being independent or content in my singledom, I wouldn’t be telling the whole truth. Because the truth is that it would certainly be nice to have a sig oth. If I say no, well then I’m sad and lonely and pathetic, aren’t I?

But it’s not even that. I can handle being seen as independent or lonely, respectively, because I am certainly a little bit of both. What bothers me about the “by choice” question, is that it very subtly takes the idea of “choice” away from me. It implies that it is so damn easy to find a person you want to be with that if you don’t already have one, you must not want one. Surprise! We can’t all just walk out the door and bump into the love of our life like they do in the movies. I really wish people would stop talking about relationships like they happen that way. The idea of single by choice forces my hand; either I am unhappily single and my fulfillment is dependent on another (albeit absent) person, or I am happily single and not interested in the human connection that comes from being in a relationship. Neither of these is a completely damnable condition. However, neither of them describes me, not completely anyway. I do thrive on human connections, but I am also pretty content. Yes, I am single and while I’d really prefer not to be, finding someone to date is also not the focus of my life right now.

Single by choice also implies responsibility – like it’s “my fault” that I’m single. I obviously wasn’t trying hard enough to rope myself a partner. My bad! I jest, but every time someone asks me this question I do start to doubt myself a bit. Should I go out more? Am I too timid? Am I wasting time not intentionally looking for someone? Why don’t I go to more gay clubs? What if I missed my chance at happiness and now it’s all downhill from here?? It sounds crazy, right? That’s because it is. We put so much pressure on ourselves and on each other with the way we talk about love and relationships. What’s so wrong with just being single? It’s like how people used to ask me if I was a virgin by choice. Every time I had that conversation with someone it made me feel ashamed – it highlighted the fact that it wasn’t my decision to remain a virgin. It left me feeling out of control. And if I took ownership for it, if I told them it was a conscious decision to wait, then I was praised for being “strong-willed,” or “moral,” or even “lucky” – when all I really felt was young. So, so young and inexperienced and left out of a club that one by one everyone around me was joining. Since finishing college I don’t get asked that question so much anymore. People aren’t so forward out in the real world. They just ask me about my dating life and make their own inferences from that.

I didn’t mention that the most recent “single by choice?” was prefaced by the always interesting “do you have a boyfriend?” question. People are not as forward post-college, but they are also not as forward-thinking. And I don’t feel as safe coming out as I used to. That could’ve been a prime coming-out opportunity. Impromptu New Year’s Resolution: I will do my best to take advantage of those opportunities in the future. There was a time where I would’ve seized that opportunity without hesitation; this time I saw it and watched it float by. But it could have been a really good teaching moment, or even a bonding moment if that person was queer! Part of my personal brand of queer is to be an ambassador as well as an ally, regardless of whether I am single or virginal or neither or both.

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The Other L Word

Published August 27, 2013 by auddity

I recently had a conversation with a dear friend about loneliness. She has just experienced romantic success (I described it as “living the dream” – you go girl!) and another of our friends is in a steady committed relationship as well. We talked about another friend who is actively dating and navigating that world. And then we talked about me. We talked about loneliness.

While I am single, my friend said she didn’t think I was one of those people who was “desperately lonely,” who can’t function on their own. I said I would call myself “moderately lonely.” But the thing is, the other day I was riding the subway and a woman sat down next to me. She kept nodding off and her arm eventually slumped into mine. And I didn’t pull away because I liked the feeling of her arm against mine. I liked the feeling of human contact and, well that sounds pretty damn lonely to me.

Then, because I am me, my brain launched into a future scenario where I’m riding the subway home with the person I’m seeing and I lean into them because I can just slump into their arm whenever I want. I can touch them whenever I want because they’re mine and I am theirs. And I relished in the knowledge that we were going home together. Oh, how lovely. That sounds like home. But alas, I rode the subway home alone and tried to engross myself in my book because when people engage me on the subway they are never Prince(ss) Charming and they are usually asking me for money.

But even though my book is very good (Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro), my brain launched into another scenario where I’m also riding the subway home but this time I am alone. I have several stops to go before home, but I look out the window and we’re pulling into the stop closest to where my person lives. In a split-second decision, I propel myself out the doors and rush out onto the street. I race to their apartment (it may or may not be raining) and ring their buzzer. They don’t answer (not because they’re not home, but we’re in some fight or other), so I ring all the buzzers until someone lets me in. I pound on their door, disturbing all their neighbors, but I don’t care. When they finally open the door, I kiss them or confess my love or something equally dramatic and grand. I’ve always been one for grand gestures. We make up and live happily ever after.

But this is crap. It’s all nonsense because, as I also discussed with my friend and several others, I have not been attracted to anyone in a really long time. Our conversation came in the wake of someone who identified as straight implying she was attracted to me, if only momentarily. While part of me wanted to pat myself on the back like, Yeah, still got it, the other part was solidly uninterested. That’s the problem; I am generally just disinterested. I mean, I certainly still see people who I think are attractive, but I am not attracted to them. The last time I had a new, exciting attraction to someone that I actually wanted to pursue was about two and a half years ago. Now, I know people go through dry spells, but that is a long time. So yeah, I’d say I’m moderate-to-desperately lonely.

I’ve been emailing back and forth with this really nice guy I met on OkCupid (yeah, I know I said I’d quit), but after a few exchanges I lost interest. He’s a really interesting guy too, he’s well-traveled and he speaks a bunch of languages; we’ve talked a lot about books and movies and we seem to have similar tastes. The poor guy has been waiting for my reply for probably over a week now, but I’ve just lost interest. I’ve told myself it’s because I’m not in the place to meet someone that way, that I’d need to become friends with someone in real life first and then gradually transition into something more (that’s the same excuse I gave when my friend asked me if I’d tried going to any gay clubs since moving to the city), but how can you know a thing like that? Relationships can come out of left field, but you can’t sit around waiting for them to happen. Also that tactic would require, you know, making new friends. I think deep down I’m scared that no matter where I look, online, in a club, or in a friendship, I’ll never find someone I want to be with. And that, my friends, is a very lonely thought.

What I cruel joke, a particularly harsh irony; a romantic without attraction is just a dreamer, never a lover.

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