Saturday, 23 July 2011

On how not dating doesn't make it easier

Last night I was at a gathering of friends, and at some point someone said something to me, which I want to address. What was said to me, completely seriously, was “I wish I was like you.  You must have it so easy, not dating and stuff.”

Which. No. Just no.

I get that romantic relationships are hard. Seriously, I do. I’ve watched enough friends get emotionally screwed over by them to get the message that ‘hey, these are hard’.

However. I would like to humbly point out that at least romantic relationships are generally understood by society. We are told by society that “these are good. These are ok. These are what you will have/want to have”. When someone says “I am having issues with my romantic relationship”, they can expect a response of along the lines of “D:”. When people want their significant other invited along, it is taken for granted that they can come to nigh on any social gathering. Society re-affirms that ‘this is a relationship to be prized’ in a million different ways: hospitals let SO’s in to visit before friends( and sometimes family), medical forms have a slot for SO, legal issues are understood to be the SO’s purview if you cannot respond, etc etc. If you do not want a romantic relationship, you are in the minority.

The kinds of relationships I want? Not so much. I want bits of things which could be considered romantic relationships (cuddling, emotional intimacy, some form of acknowledgement from all parties in the relationship that it is important, possibly someone to share a house with, general company), but not all bits of a romantic relationship (kissing, exclusivity, the bits which are...romantic? IDK, this is where I get bloody lost when describing what I want.*).

But  the message I get from society in regards to what I want as my primary relationship(s) is “No.”

Not “maybe”, not “hmmm”, just “No.” Maybe with a liberal smattering of either “You freak” or “wtf, no.”

If I want to fill out a form at some point in the future, after I have moved out of home, I’m going to have to think long and hard about who can be my emergency contact. Because the people I’d ask aren’t related to me, and that can be more than a little iffy legally speaking. If I do end up moving in with my closest friend like I’m hoping to, I expect to have to spend much time explaining that “no, our relationship is not x. Seriously. No, really.”**

Speaking hypothetically now, if this relationship dies, breaks up or otherwise has issues, I actually have basically no hope of being taken seriously when I get upset. I have no guarantee that I will not be told to “man up”, that my emotional reaction will not be relegated to the basket of “over-reacting, it was just a friendship”.

The thought of losing this relationship, the thought of that happening is possibly one of the most terrifying things I can imagine.***

So please. Don’t tell me that “I’ve got it easier”. It will make me very likely to punch you, and then laugh hysterically.

Another thing that will probably cause me to laugh hysterically while jumping on your corpse is telling me that “I’m lucky to be able to figure my relationships out from scratch” or that “I should be happy I’m creating my own relationships”.

As Sciatrix puts it here; “I’d have preferred to not have to put all my emotional eggs in an experimental basket, given the choice.

Because as it is? As it is, standard relationships are basically “Here are your emotional eggs. This is the box you get to put them in. Isn’t it nice and re-inforced? We’ve made it from titamium and shit, it’s pretty cool. Look, you can like drop it and 90% of the time your eggs’ll be fine. And if they break, it’s probably not your fault, there must have been a problem with the box.”

My relationships, on the other hand, are more “So, here are your eggs. And you remember hearing about that box everyone else gets? You don’t get one. But you do get this one. We’re not sure what it’s made of. Could be bloody Graphene, could be straw. We don’t know. And by the way, you don’t get to see the box, so you can’t fix any holes it might have. Nor do you get to see other people’s boxes, because that would be cheating or something. We also haven’t tested it, because that’s your job. Safe? ‘Course not. Oh yeah, and some of us are going to try jumping up and down on your box with the eggs in it, just to see what happens. And then maybe we’ll throw them at the wall, and set ‘em on fire or shit, who knows. It’ll be awesome. And just remember, if your eggs break it’s all your fault.”****

And that? That’s fucking terrifying some days.

*The sheer fact that I need to describe what I want points out that ‘hey, all relationships are hard’.

**If I can be bothered. I’m fairly sure I’ll just let people assume whatever the fuck they want, up until the point it starts harming my friends. At which point I will take actions to make sure it stops.

***The fact that I have had nightmares about that very thing happening should possibly tell you something. Seriously, the image of a retreating back has never been worse.

****So that metaphor kinda got away from me there a bit.

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