I made a new rule for myself last weekend. Every Saturday I will write a blog. I made this rule last Friday. And then rebelled against it my very first Saturday. Because I’m awesome and take my writing very seriously. This week I have been stern with myself and put on some writing music (got to get my groove on to get going) and voila – here I am!
I’ve had something I wanted to write about for a couple of weeks, and conveniently life has handed me a couple more pieces of material while I’ve avoided putting finger to key. It’s the perception others have of you, and force on you, when it comes to your relationship status. And it gets me all riled up!
A few weeks ago I went out for birthday drinks with some girlfriends and the birthday girl’s other girlfriends. I didn’t stay too long because my new job is insanely exhausting and I’m also fairly lame when it comes to late nights out. I was going stag for the night as Simon is in the thick of exam time and therefore in social lock down. I hadn’t met a bunch of the women there, so we were testing the waters and getting to know each other.
The topic turned to men, as it inevitably does. I hadn’t really said much, just laughed along with the tales going around. One of the girls turned to me and said something along the lines of maybe we’d get lucky and meet someone that evening. I went ‘oh…no…’ and my friend jumped in with ‘Oh no, she can’t, she already has a boyfriend’. And I watched the other girl’s face shut down. She went ‘oh’ and then turned away from me and started talking to the girl on the other side of her. Shortly after that, she declared she was so glad to be out and about on a Friday, because otherwise she’d just be doing what she always does – ordering a pizza, drinking wine and watching tv at home on the couch in her trackies. She was so self-disparaging, and shot me a quick look like she expected judgement. It really made me pause. I’d been single for a very long time before Simon came along and rocked my quiet little world. It was odd for me to realise that having a man in my life has pushed me into another category in other people’s eyes. It’s been weird for me to hang out in the couple world, where there are little kids running around and we have doggy play dates with each other. I was feeling like I was back in my old comfort zone hanging out with these women, until the singletons made it very clear I didn’t belong with them anymore. All because of a man? I really wish I’d piped up and said what I was really thinking – that getting a pizza, having a drink and bumming around on the couch is pretty much every Friday night for Simon and I. Why does having another person there suddenly make that a more valid, worthy way of spending a Friday night? Give or take a bit of sex, our lives are pretty much the same as this woman’s.
It really bugs me that people judge you on your relationship status. It used to annoy me when I was single, with all the sympathetic looks and clucks from people – ‘Don’t worry, you’ll find someone one day’, ‘You never know who might be right around the corner’. Do I look worried? Do I look like I’m hating being able to sleep like a starfish in my queen sized bed and watch whatever I want on tv? No. Leave me alone and go back to your own life, it needs your attention more than mine does. When I met Simon and we moved in together, I thought maybe those judgements would leave me alone at last. Oh, I was so very wrong. Because once you’re in a relationship, the next gates of societal ranks start getting thrown in your face.
Last Friday I went to after-work drinks with a bunch of other business analysts. Because I’m being proactive about this career and actually do my darnedest to network (!). As the evening wound down, I was left briefly at the table with just one other BA, a 51 year old guy (we’d been comparing ages earlier at the behest of a 22 year old). I was looking at him, wondering if he’d kick off the conversation or if I was going to have to. I was relieved when he opened his mouth, as my mind was blanking on what to say (all the good small talk options had been exhausted). His opening line?
‘So, you’re not married.’
What the? I have never been asked that question before. I was completely thrown, and switched into auto-defensive mode.
‘No, not married. I have a boyfriend though. We live together. And we have a dog.’
Inside, I was asking myself why I felt like I had to justify my life to this man and list my relationship credentials like they had any kind of bearing on my worth as a person. Luckily for me the mention of a dog got us off onto that topic and I survived until my cousin returned from the bathroom.
I thought that was it, just a weird moment, possibly the result of him panicking and blurting out the first thing he could think of. But then yesterday I had a similar conversation. There’s another new BA in my team at work, so me and Kevin, who started on the same day as me, took him out for coffee. So it was a get to know you conversation. Kevin asked Nick, the new guy, if he had a family (he’s older). Nick said yeah, a wife & two kids. He asked Kevin if he was married & had kids. Kevin said no, not married, no kids. Not even a relationship, but having a date that night. Probably doing the same auto-witter I did the week before. Nick turned to me & asked the same question. So I parroted Kevin and said, no, not married, no kids, haha. But that I do live with my boyfriend. Nick gave me a sympathetic look and said ‘Oh well, you just enjoy your time’.
Oh well? Sympathetic look? Oh hell no. I got a little fired up and said ‘Enjoy my time? Why, before marriage comes along and ruins everything, you mean?’ Yeah, that’s right dude. You insult my life, I’m going to challenge you on yours. He got a bit of a surprise and said ‘Oh no, marriage makes it better. But that’s ok, you just enjoy your time’. What the hell? Why is he pitying me and implying my relationship is less worthy than his because I don’t have a ring and a certificate? Does getting a piece of paper from the government define our level of love? No. It blew my mind. I was used to getting that attitude when I was single. I hated it and thought it was ridiculous, but I understood that society is geared towards finding your other half etc etc. But now suddenly I’m still to be pitied because I’m not married? I do not understand. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. That is what matters. No one has the right to judge another person’s situation in life. I don’t judge them or deem them worthier of respect because they’re married. It means nothing to me. I just wish others would have the same attitude.
I don’t really have a point to this post. It was mostly to rant and get all that off my chest. It still puzzles me. Why do single people feel inferior to couples? Why do married people feel unmarried folk are inferior to them? I know not everyone feels that way, but I’ve copped it from all sides lately so it feels a little like it’s the majority. Do you guys encounter this judgement and pity about your situations? I know the answer is probably for me to just not care what other people think, and I honestly don’t care if Nick thinks I’m settling for second best by not being married – in my world, I’ve won the lottery when it comes to relationships. But I really, really dislike those conversations. The looks that get shot at me. The shut downs from single people, the ‘there there’ attitude from the married. It makes me so mad! Everyone needs to leave each other alone and stop passing judgement.