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Friday, February 27, 2009

Long Term Singlutionaries

I am new to dating. I never really dated before. I just jumped into bed and into love with strangers. When I was in college I tried the same tactics with making friends: I decided I wanted a person to be my new best friend and I would get their phone number and then invite them to EVERYTHING under the sun. My true best friend and roommate at the time tried to explain to me that things don't work that way with friends. She said that I needed to wait a while, talk to them after class and then find a way (after a period of time) to invite them to a relevant social activity.

I thought that was absurd. I mean, I'd already decided they were my new best friend. Or, in the case of men, I'd already decided they were my future husband. 

Ironically, one of the many things I find strange about dating now is the underlying assumption (which is mostly true in my age range) that we both seeking a long term relationship which ideally culminates in marriage.

In some ways I like asking, right at the get-go: "Is this person someone I would want around for the rest of my life" because most of the time the answer is a clear "no". Most of the time I can put a pretty clear prediction on how long a relationship with this person would last: One day, two weeks, four months, one year. I haven't met anyone yet who would last for even a year.

Here is what I realized this morning: I take the same approach when it comes to friends: I am at a point in my life where if I can't see our friendship being mutually enjoyable for more than a year, I'm not interested. 

Gosh. How rude. When it comes to friendship, it seems like we're supposed to open the floodgates to any and all applicants. But I invest a lot in all of my relationships and I don't have a ton of social time. I would rather being doing projects around the house and saving up my friendship energies for a "real" friendship than be out whoring around with one-night-friends.

This revelation has brought me so much relief!

1. Now I don't feel so awful about not pursuing a lot of female friendships. I have been worried for a long time now that I am secretly cultivating some very NON Singlutionary habits, one of which is devaluing friendship and perceiving friendship as merely a filler until I find my true romantic partner. I've also been thinking that I'm a closeted misogynist. Why is is that new female friendships either haven't kept my interest or have been downright annoying? Now I realize that I just haven't met the "right one(s)"! Finding new friends is like dating: If the friendship won't last more than a year, I'm just not interested.

2. Dating using this one year perspective is extraordinarily useful. In the past I would have gone on one date and then sat around for months trying to figure out how I could squish this stranger into my life and make him fit. That is crazy! Now I don't feel bad after the un-success of each and every dating encounter because I realize that what I am seeking is very specific. There is an exact shape--some sort of a polygon--and that is the shape of a person who would fit into my life (and I into theirs). So I'm like a child going through all these pegs trying to find the one that I can fit into the correct hole. Except now the shapes are far more complicated than circle, square, triangle. Instead they are these beautiful complex shapes. I look at the peg's shape (the date) and I appreciate it but it still doesn't fit into my uniquely shaped hole (make all the sex/penis/vagina jokes you want in the comments but I like this analogy)!

3. This whole peg/hole thing is a game. It doesn't have to be torturous full of rejection and all that. It doesn't even have to be played constantly. I can be out in the world and find some peg that might work and then forget about it for three weeks and then finally try it out. I don't need a peg to feel full or to fully function or to have joy and love and laugher in my life. The peg/hole game is kinda fun but there are other things I'd like to do too-- other learning endeavors. 

So that is my revelation for today. I am a long term Singlutionary and I like it this way!


Special K said...

I have high standards for my relationships...I'd rather spend an evening watching a great documentary alone than spending time with a person just for the sake of companionship. HOWEVER...sometimes our notions of what things SHOULD be like get in the way of experiencing new possibilities. sometimes you just got to be OPEN. Trust is hard.

Anonymous said...

I love your peg analogy!

You make a very good point that making friends is--or should be--similar to dating, in that you have to find "the one" or rather in the case with friendship, the "the ones"

Though with friendship you can be more flexible than with a "date with potential for marriage". With friends, you can have one friend who would drive you crazy to travel with, for example, but who makes an excellent partner for book discussions. For significant others, you have to be more careful that all their edges and corners fit into your peg-hole, as you say, because they will be much more a part of your life on a daily basis (if you follow the conventional significant-other model)
Christina at Onely

The Singlutionary said...

Special K: I've been learning to trust myself and my instincts about people and so far, so good. I used to try and be super open about everything: I didn't want to miss the opportunity when it came. But I think now that if I go with my gut, its for the best. My gut has never lead me down the wrong path and it would have steered me away from some pretty foul ones if only I had listened!

Onely: I think its the conventional significant-other model that I might have a beef with. I just don't expect one person to fill up my whole life or match me in every way which might be why I value my friends so highly. The conventional significant-other model (as you so excellently put it) has always been a stumbling block for me and still is!

Clever Elsie said...

A few years ago, I came to that same realization about choosing friends. I suddenly understood that I wasn't being antisocial...I just didn't want to waste time on friendships that weren't a good fit. Since then, I've been much pickier about who I hang out with, but it also means that the friendships I DO have are close and highly valued.