Thursday, October 24, 2013

I Don't Want to Be in a Relationship.

I know that this puts me in a category with what seems like about 1% or less of people my age: Not only am I not in a relationship right now, but I have absolutely no desire to be in one. Not now, and not for a LONG time in the future.

I love being single. That's not sarcasm at all--I mean, I really love it. I love that I can make big plans for my future and be able to pursue what I feel led to pursue without being tied down by someone else's plans. I'm young, and I love that I don't have to fit my life into someone else's. I love that I can do what I want to do on Friday night, whether it's going out with friends or staying in and reading a book. I love being able to go where I want and do what I want without having to check in with anyone. I love that I can spend time with any friends that I want, male or female, without feeling guilty about it or worried that my significant other won't like my friends. And with no offense meant toward anyone, I guess I just don't want to spend every waking moment with one person right now. Most girls I know who are in relationships, for example, have dinner with their boyfriends EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. I just don't want to spend that much time with one person right now.

But my culture makes me feel very guilty about loving being single. I'm not supposed to love it. I'm supposed to hate it and be willing to do just about anything to be in a relationship. It is not assumed that single people have full, complete lives (but I would very much like to challenge that assumption). It is assumed that their lives are "unfinished," if you will, searching, and sometimes desperate. Just in terms of cultural norms, when people ask me if I'm dating someone, I'm not really allowed to say the truth: "No, I'm not dating anyone because I love being single." No, you're expected to give people very clear, logical reasons as to why exactly you aren't dating, and a clear timeline of when you expect to start dating in the future. Hence my classic excuse, aided by the fact that I went straight from college to law school: "I'm waiting until I finish school." And on top of making us single ladies feel like we can't possibly not be planning to date someone in the very clearly defined future, I know many people would dismiss every reason I just gave for loving singleness as being totally selfish. While I do understand how it could seem that way to some, at the heart of it, why is it selfish to pursue the lifestyle you want? Most of the single people I know still care deeply about others, are invested in their friendships, active in their communities, successful in their work, etc. They're giving and contributing and mentoring and investing and making a difference. They are not selfish simply because they're pursuing the life they want in terms of their relationships--just like it's not fair to tell people who are in relationships that they're selfish just because of that fact.

Just as people have the right to pursue a relationship if it makes them happy, they should also be able to not pursue a relationship if that's the lifestyle they want, without having other people wonder what's wrong with them and when they'll come around and realize that they need to Start Dating Right Now. And don't even get me started on the offensive articles out there about "why you're still single" that accuse single people of being weird, immature, unable to take care of themselves, and socially awkward. I mean, really? Moreover, I'm tired of the idea that single people aren't really "adults" yet, and I don't even know where this notion came from. It's not as if getting a boyfriend or girlfriend suddenly transforms you into an adult, or as if single people aren't paying their bills, working really hard, and taking care of themselves just like any other adults.

Don't get me wrong. I am delighted for my friends who are happily dating, engaged, and married (and a couple of my friends have really wonderful marriages and I think, someday, I probably will want a marriage like theirs). I am just as happy for my friends who, like me, are happily single. But here's a little secret: I'm not waiting to finish school before I start dating. That's an excuse because I know most people won't be ok with the real answer. I'm not dating because I don't want to be dating! (I'm laughing right now just imagining the responses I might get to that if I said that to people when I go home over Thanksgiving break!) I highly doubt that in 7 months when I graduate I'll suddenly want to start dating (or in a year, or a year and a half, etc., but that's neither here nor there). Of course I don't know what will happen in the future, but based on the fact that I've been very happily single for my entire adult life so far, I would definitely anticipate that I'll probably be perfectly happy working for a few years before I even want to think about dating. So what if I'm 27, or 30, or 32, and not in a relationship! If I'm happy and doing what I think God wants me to do, why does my personal relationship status even matter to anybody else?

I know that that's not acceptable to a lot of people. I know a lot of you all may be reading this and wondering who this weird girl is who just readily admitted that I've never even been in a real relationship and that's perfectly fine with me. But ultimately, we as a culture need to stop judging other people's choices to be, or not to be, in relationships, because it's offensive, and we need to just stop already. Anyway, that's my two cents. Thoughts?

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