So my friend, Deidre (of Decoybetty) was writing about the phenomenon of “relationship status” in a guest post she recently did called You’re A Lot More Than Your Relationship Status and I have to agree with her. I am constantly flabbergasted at all the people who define themselves as single, in a relationship, it’s complicated or whatever. We’re only in our 20’s, whether I’m dating someone or not really doesn’t define me.
If you want to know if I’m single or taken, you should ask because that’s not who I am. If you ask me who I am, I’d still say I’m a renegade physicist even though I haven’t done physics in years. I’d say that I’m a confused 26-year old grad student trying to figure out her consulting gig the best she can and get to where she wants to go on that crazy corporate ladder. I’d say I have a very serious relationship with Grey’s Anatomy and that I could dance all night long. I’d say that I have a penchant for wearing ties but I’ve recently discovered that wearing dresses and fitted clothing is awesome since I’ve worked really hard to get in shape. I’d also say that I love soccer even though I think I suck at it and that I’ll keep going to ballroom classes until I can some day afford to compete (at least as an amateur). I’d say that I’ve had my heart broken but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in love and fairy tales and happily ever after. I’d say that I believe the best in people and am constantly disappointed when I get let down but I never learn that lesson and I like myself for always giving people the benefit of the doubt. I’d say that I am thoughtful and a fierce friend which are the characteristics that I value most in my friends too.
Here’s the thing, none of what I’ve described above has anything to do with whether I’m in a relationship or not. And perhaps I am a little more fierce about some bits more than others because of the fact that I very recently got my heart broken but I don’t define myself as single. I just happen to not be dating anyone, it is not a defining characteristic of my personality or even remotely who I am. In fact even when I was dating I never thought of myself as being not single. It’s just not something that I identify with. I am my own person and I would hope my partner would be as well. Perhaps when we’ve spent half our lives together I may start to consider my relationship as a defining characteristic of myself but at the moment I think my friends and my family have far more influence on who I am today than anyone I have ever dated has.
I mean I’d say I’m a feminist because I grew up with extremely strong matriarchs in my family and going to a women’s college just ingrained that further in me. I’m a cross-culture kid and I often forget this because at 26 it’s pretty much just who I am and I don’t even think about it anymore. The person I am today is made up of the environment I was brought up in, which was the huge sprawling metropolis of Houston, Texas. It’s in the Bengali that my family speaks at home and the way we flip in and out of this weird mixture between Bengali and English; as if everyone speaks both even though we live in the US. It’s in the conversations with my friends where I talk about how marriage is a “patriarchal construct” and this is “normal” because we went to a women’s college.
Quite frankly the excuse that society puts so much pressure on this is a cop out to me because aren’t we a part of society? I mean I don’t believe that who I do or do not date is really anyone’s business but my own. If I want you to know I’ll tell you, trust me. It’s pretty similar to how I feel about people asking whether I date girls or boys. If I wanted you to know, I’d tell you. I mean I don’t understand why people have this desire to be defined by whether they are in a relationship or not. Actually that’s pretty similar to how I felt in college about everyone making a big deal of coming out. I mean yes I understand it can be an empowering experience and all but there is so much more to who I am than who I date. At this point in my life I define who I am and no one else. Sure there are people who have touched my life and changed me but I’d say that my friends who I’ve known for 8+ years have probably had a more significant impact than any relationship I’ve been in.
I hear so often how we hate how the world views people who are single as if there is a stigma attached. Well, folks, we are part of society, it’s up to us to change it. If you don’t want your relationship status to be a defining characteristic then don’t let it be. I don’t talk about mine. I rarely ever have. I mean recently I was with someone long enough where I did start talking about things in we’s but I’m not there anymore and I’m ok with that. Am I going to let it define who I am? No, certainly not.
So do you like physics? Have you ever watched the sunrise over a river? Can you quote “the little prince”? Do you love 80’s music? Can you two-step (cause I might just fall in love with you in that case)? Who are you? Because I’m sure it’s more than just “single” or “in a relationship” or “married” or “it’s complicated”. At least I certainly hope so.