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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Single or Singlutionary?

Until my recent revelation in regards to my roommates and my need for community, I thought that I wanted a community of Singles. I was very adamant that everyone be single. I even posted a post on craigslist for single friends. I had one woman respond who was married but wasn't "connected at the hip" with her husband. She seemed super cool but I honestly wasn't really interested because I wanted single friends.

Single means unattached. For many people being single is a temporary state and eventually they'll be in a relationship again. Being single doesn't really mean that a person is happy or active for fun or even available. And making friends with single people doesn't guarantee that, as soon as they become coupled, they won't run off with their partner and abandon their loyal friends.

So while I was looking for single friends, I was also wary of single friends. I've met a lot of singles in my life who just use friends as a filler until they find a mate. I found myself in a catch 22 with my own thinking.

So when I found community with my roommates, it was strange to realize that not all of them are single. In fact, two of them aren't single. Two of them have serious long-term boyfriends. This fact rarely occurs to me because, at home, they are functionally single. 

I make it really clear to prospective roommates that their significant other is not welcome to live here. If he/she comes over once a week, that is fine but the house is too small for everyone to have their partner over all the time. Plus, when a couple is making breakfast or watching a movie, its pretty easy for them to make the other people in the house feel kinda uncomfortable (depending on how obnoxious they are). Couples tend to take over in domestic spaces. Not only that, this is my home and I want to be able to walk around without a bra on with my hair all messed up and not feel awkward when my nipples bump into someone's significant other. So I seek out roommates who feel the same way about the situation. 

So far my adamance about: "YOU live here but your partner does not" has been very effective. I've seen one roommate's boyfriend about four times and the other roommate's boyfriend, I have NEVER met although he did hook us up with free cable. The roommates disappear over the weekends to their boyfriend's places where roommates aren't an issue. 

Still, if two of my three roommates are coupled, how could it be that I've found the single community I was seeking right here at home?

What I was seeking wasn't a singles community at all? It was a Singlutionary community that I really wanted! Even if/when I find myself in a relationship, certain basic things aren't going to change about my life. I am still going to keep up with my friends, my dog, my house, my hobbies. My lifestyle won't change nor will my way of thinking. (I know because whenever I have gotten into a relationship in the past, things HAVE changed and ultimately, I got pissed off and ended it.) Having a Singlutionary mindset is what is important, not whether you happen to be single or coupled.

Being Singlutionary is: Thinking and speaking as an "I" not a "we". Having strong relationships (outside of coupledom). Owning your own happiness and not waiting for another person to deliver it to you. Enjoying time and space alone. Pursing your dreams independent of a romantic relationship (even if pursue your dream with your partner, you would still pursue it alone if he/she weren't in the picture). 

Me and my dog and my three roommates are all Singlutionaries and that is why this works. We all have a strong sense of self and enjoy our lives as individuals. I am sure my two coupled roommates also enjoy their lives as part of a couple, but I suspect that they still see themselves as individuals even on their weekends at the boyfriend's. Their sense of identity isn't entirely dependent on their man. In fact, it isn't dependent at all on their man although they do love and respect him. 

So I guess I was being narrow minded and prejudiced when I was exclusively looking for an exclusively single community. Of course, there are typically some differences between the lifestyle/needs/availability of single vs. married people. My roommates don't live with their boyfriends and that obviously is a key factor. Geographical proximity seems to be a big deal when it comes to community. I think this is the case now more than ever as traffic gets worse, gas gets more expensive and people seek a higher quality of life. 

So Singlutionary community blossoms everywhere, even in my own backyard and even with people who aren't even single!

9 comments:

onely.org said...

Your dog is a Singlutionary! I love it!

You make an excellent point about how coupled people can be Singlutionary too. We at Onely get a lot of flack (well, some flack) from people who think we are against relationships per se, when really we're just against people being smothered by a relationship or the idea of a relationship.

The former can happen to couples, but the latter, as you point out, can happen to singles--which is why your request for "only single" friends on Craig's list was not necesarily representative of the kind of community you wanted to find (though I can definitely understand why you would start seeking within those parameters).

I think that in a relationship, your lifestyle has to change a little bit. You just have to be aware of where your own personal Change Line is, and how far over it you're willing to step (if at all). It's hard to see that line!!

I think one reason I'm not in a relationship is because I know that I will just give give give until I fade away, because I'm an inherently giving person. I like to help people and to share and make others happy. I usually don't see that they aren't reciprocating until. . . it's. . .too. . . late. So better to make sure I take care of myself, and if I have to be single for a while in order to make sure that happens, fine.

Perhaps lots of singles feel this way. That would be ironic--because we are often portrayed as selfish!

Christina

The Singlutionary said...

Christina,

You are SO articulate! Thank you. The way you describe an individual's lifestyle changing in a relationship is fantastic. I actually do feel the same way. I give and give to make everything work and I don't realize that I was the only one giving until I get so exhausted from giving (while trying to keep up all the other aspects of my life) that I get super cranky and break it off in a fit that looks like a temper tantrum.

Choosing to be single is the best thing for myself but it is also the best thing for the communities that I serve because I won't be exhausted all the time. I choose NOT to throw myself into a relationship because the people around me suffer.

If that is selfish, fine! I think that wanting to have a woman in your life to cater to your every emotion and to produce your offspring and cater to their every emotion is far more selfish!

Megs said...

Girls I'm the same way. I tend to give myself to everyone that I forget to take care of myself. Then I become bitter and resentful to everyone in my life. When it was I in the first place that gave myself with no reciprocation and lost myself in the idea of an us.

I agree if I need to be single for a while to figure out how to not lose myself in a relationship so be it. I would rather be happy and alone then in a relationship where I become someone I don't recognize and come to resent. I mean that isn't good for either of the people.

I was recently at a meeting where someone said "good things come from taking care of yourself". I think I had to hear it to really believe it. I know it is true, but sometimes I forget. When you take care of yourself and our happy as who you are you can serve your community much better. Maybe along the way you meet someone who fits into your life maybe you don't, but it is not the key to happiness.

Kahnee said...

" Owning your own happiness and not waiting for another person to deliver it to you."

Preach on! Preach on!

helovesmenot said...

if we were in the same city i would totally be your pseudo-single friend. i'm not single...anymore, but i hate having to rely on him for companionship all the time. i need friends :( it's hard starting over in a new city.

Susan Walsh said...

I love it that you define Singlutionary as a mindset, not a relationship status. It is about individuality, and independence, and strength, at least for me. Whether one has a partner or not, life is much more fulfilling when we pursue our own interests and have a unique identity. I also think it is very important that we not cut ourselves off from anyone - single, dating, married, any person might be an amazing friend.

The Singlutionary said...

Here is for giving to your sweet self until you learn how to give AND take in relationships!

And here is to friendship!

Thank you to all my Singlutionaries for you comments! You rock!

Kristin said...

Great point! I agree that singlutionary is a mindset and not a relationship status. I literally just got in the door from a long weekend in Montreal with my 2 (coupled) cousins and I have to say...I had a blast! Though their respective partners came up occasionally, we mostly spent the weekend shopping, eating at cafes, walking around the city, and talking about music, art, fashion, and family. All of us have masters' degrees and a strong sense of career but also like to laugh about hilarious dating/boyfriend/-in-law stories. I admit, initially I had dismissed them a little because one is married and the other engaged, but they have turned out to be the two singlutionary sisters I never had!

Clever Elsie said...

You know, I have been guilty of being narrow-minded on this subject, too. With the exception of friends I have known since long before their days of wedded bliss, I have a certain dis-ease around married people, a sense that we're just not in the same place in life, and I think that has made me dismiss them. But, really, my dismissive attitude is no less prejudiced than the singlism I'm always ranting and raving about. And you're absolutely right that the single state is transitory more often than not. I'm certainly not going to drop my friends every time they enter a relationship! Your post made me rethink my misconceptions.