Thursday, May 28, 2009

"I Love You... ?"

Warning - I don't really do short, now do I. THIS IS LONG (if you couldn't already tell). This is the short version too - I could go on FOREVER... Anyway:

I can't say this doesn't feel silly. Anyway, while I'm sure no one actually wants to hear me ramble on about some stupid crap, I will continue on. I will be completing my projects and posting final results, however there will be more information on that later.

Right now, the topic that's been on my mind (and friends' minds...) is apparently "romance." I figured this week I would present a few different takes on the situation.
Tonight- Single life. I want to present a… well, a personal argument, that shows another side of dating- the non-existent side, that is, and some reasons for it.

I chose to present this as a more personal entry in natural voice, as I believe this to be something that is unique and personal to everyone. (There is some [cough] “mild” language.)

In American society, so much emphasis is placed on "finding the right person" and "falling in love." In fact, Western cultures are quite unique in this aspect - some other cultures don't even have words to describe "love, " and very, very few even have similar concepts of love. Why is it that it is so important to us? Why is it so engrained in our society (besides occurring as a result of our religious background as a country...)? Time Magazine recently rated eHarmony, the infamous dating website, to be the most depressing site of the year (sorry, Google it, I lost the source). America has the highest rate for divorce in the ENTIRE WORLD (see here for very basic, probably less-official list: It can’t all be that much of a coincidence, can it?

What about those of us who are less interested in currently finding romantic love, for whatever reason? It's sometimes hard for others to understand exactly why dating and romance are more difficult or are different for some of us. Everyone is different, and it is the same for “love”. Most are aware of the different types of love, but does anyone really think about the different types of "romantic" love? Why should it be the same for everyone? Yes, in the end, we are all human, social beings who need “love” to thrive. However, we pride ourselves on being unique and distinctive. Shouldn't our marriages, romances, relationships, etc. be just as unique and special as we are? Shouldn't they be a reflection of who we are as individuals?

There’s only one good thing about being single in America- having single friends (who aren’t obsessed with “finding someone”) to hang out with. There’s no point if you're the only one, because then all you can think about is “finding someone” too. It seems paradoxical. Or a trap.

Newly “Twitterpated” friends keep telling me "we have to find you a man!" over and over again (Odd how many of them there suddenly are. I would say at least 3 or 4 people, this past semester alone. And no, “twitterpated” doesn’t have a damn thing to do with micro-blogging! Watch Bambi for gods-sake!).

My reply? "What the hell would I do with one?" Don't get me wrong, I’m not so naive, prudish, or "holier-than-thou" to completely ignore the reality of the situation. Nor am I the type that hates men, or hates the idea of a steady relationship or does not want a husband and family (or just a wedding, I think I can deal with it if there's just a big, fancy, cake and dress wedding with a groom and dancing and a beach...). I just don't see the point in investing so much time and energy into finding (let alone keeping...) someone who is actually interested in me or my life. I find it to be too daunting a prospect, an impossibility, especially considering the rates of failure for normal couples. I’ve realized in the past few years that I’ve completely forgotten how to interact in such a way, and relearning seems to me impossible. Despite all of this, don't tell people that they’re only single because they want to be. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. I am so sick of hearing that. It’s such bullshit. Given the choice (and I mean immediate choice, as in: here is a guy/girl, are you single or not?), most of us probably wouldn't be. If it were easier and only relied on our own individual efforts and not someone else's aesthetic/personal choice, then absolutely. However, that is not the case, and therefore it is not as easy as "find one you like." There's no H&M for boys (Though could you imagine... ;-D).

Another thing I’ve noticed- once single friends are no longer single, they tend to disappear! When you do actually see them, it's always "my boyfriend this" or "when are you going to find someone?" (It’s ok the first few times, but when you start hearing this for YEARS, it really gets old fast.) Suddenly, going out to clubs is a lot less fun, and you find yourself staying out late at night, alone, in random places because your roommate is with her boyfriend and a) is "busy" in the bedroom and kicked you out, or b) it's just too lonely there without her... And when you bring it up with another friend, their advice? "Why don't you find someone too?" That's what I hate most about people who are dating- they expect everyone else to want to do it too! Grr… What’s great for you just stresses me out to no end.

So to remedy my new lonely situation, I tried to seek out other people to hang out with. That didn’t really work out too well…So I searched online for stuff for single people to do- except I meant single in the literal sense. Of course, the only things that came up were "find the right person for you!" kinds of crap. Seriously? Because I couldn't possibly just want some information about things to do by myself? No, please, advertise to me about finding my true love, because apparently that's what you think I should be doing instead of spending some quality me time. I even searched around for some new friends to chat with online in my usual forums... Oops, forgot I’m too shy to actually talk to people. Needless to say, that didn’t really go too well either. I did find a lot of stuff to keep me busy though.... I learned a billion new recipes, a bunch of new songs on the guitar AND the piano, bought new video games, planned my costumes for Otakon. I’ve been wondering why the semester seemed so empty this year. I’ve been so incredibly busy with school work, to keep my mind off of life. I just wanted to spend time with my friends... (Not that I’m blaming them or anything, if that’s how it sounds… Again, their choice, their lives… I just miss them!) I miss the days when it wasn't about finding romance but just... living. Why does growing older have to be about careers and marriage? What happened to life? Enjoying a cool breeze, the fuzziness of a dandelion, the feeling of mud between your toes? Why must we make things so complicated?

I wonder sometimes if I’m normal... (Yes, I googled that too. I had way too much time on my hands one night, and when there's no one to talk to... well, what else is there to do?) I think the answer is yes and no. The sad thing about “normal” is that it’s based solely on the majority, and it has incredible capacity to change. The majority isn’t always right, and what’s right for some or most isn’t necessarily right for all. However, apparently there are a lot of people who feel the same way I do, or are my age and have never truly dated. There’s just so much peer pressure for certain age groups, and it’s starting even younger now. Since when were 10 year olds so concerned with dating? I’m pretty sure I was still playing with Barbies at 10. The idea probably never even crossed my mind until…13 maybe.

I remember a few years ago (freshman year!), my friend invited her boyfriend’s friend to go to this big dance, with me (as a friend, of course). It was awkward, but a lot of fun. We even ended up talking a bit later on in the semester. I can’t say much for his side of things, but from the moment he agreed to go, all of my friends jumped into “matchmaker” mode. It was unbearable. By the time I was actually supposed to meet him, I was too nervous to even say hi! And afterwards… “You two got along so well! You have so much in common! Do you like him? What’s going to happen next?” before I even got my shoes off. They even started badgering him to say what he thought of me! Semi-mature young adults, acting like little middle schoolers over something as silly as a dance… It’s amazing how crucial it became to the rest of the evening’s activities… One friend said that everyone just wanted to see me try dating someone for once. They said it was the normal thing to do, that I should try it because I might like it. I replied that no one had actually asked me my opinion about dating beforehand. No one bothered to ask me why I didn’t want to date. And since when is my private life their business, anyway?

It’s not like I don't feel anything for anyone. I have many crushes; I just don't do anything about them. I suppose my shyness and fear of rejection (damn you social phobia!!!) play a role in that., however I do have my (legitimate) reasons. I’m not so anti-social that I won't talk to someone... or perhaps I’m just too traditional when it comes to this. Either way, does it matter that I don't believe in dating? I think it's ridiculous, to be perfectly honest. I mean the "I like you, let's go have dinner and see a movie" type of crap kids do nowadays (again, I’m guessing here. I wouldn’t exactly know, now would I). What’s the point? Awkward conversation followed by awkward silence followed by 2 hours of fidgeting in a seat next to them followed by... I don't even know. I would be so bored by the end of dinner... can you really get to know someone like that? I really don't think so. I wouldn't know what to talk about to begin with, nor would I really want to talk about myself and divulge my life's story like that. It’s such a silly concept, really. I can understand why many people do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

My first thought (and a warning from other friends), when confronted with all of these ideas, was the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy- to make it as simple as I possibly can, it means something will come true because I unintentionally made it the result. Setting yourself up for failure. If I believe I’ll never fall in love, I won’t be able to. If I believe I'll get hurt, I will. How depressing is that. And since I'm a fatalist, it seems even more depressing, because it means that it was always meant to be. For me, it’s not at all that I believe romantic love doesn’t exist, or that I’ll never find it (again?), but that it comes with a slew of unwanted attachments and so many other problems. For one, I’m kind of looking for something that’s long lasting, not short-term. The idea of a summer fling is absolutely appalling, because I become very emotionally attached to people very easily- a typical problem for a lot of people, surprisingly. Short-term relationships can be more painful than they’re worth. (I don’t care how many people I meet in life. I prefer quality over quantity.)

Being in love has its perks, but I’ve also found it to be… well, annoying at times. (I was a complete ditz -_-“) It’s impractical, fickle, and unpredictable, and overall focuses far too much on the “heart” over the mind—all the things I (a Virgo) can’t stand. That’s where marriage comes in- a practical solution to an impractical problem. Marriage, in its most basic form, is a social and economic arrangement designed to create and foster a stable society. Love is actually quite irrelevant, but we like to believe that it strengthens the bonds. And it might. Or not. Depends on the type of love, really. Companionship vs. passion? You can’t really build a future on passion. Sorry… It’s fun while it lasts though.

So what about other people? Friends with benefits? Eh, why not. When there is no love or need for it, it’s purely instinctual, fulfilling a basic need. A lot of people seem to find it weird that I’m ok with this and 1-night stands (not to say that I would ever engage in either, but I won’t judge you if you do/would. Your choice, your life, live it while you can. Just be safe about it.) Again, who said sex and love have to be related? (Answer: religion! I’m trying to keep this as secular as possible, so if what I’m saying goes against your personal religion, remember that this is my personal opinion and I am basically an atheist, so I really don’t care about religious opinions. They are IRRELEVANT right now.) As someone once said to me, if you can’t have the real thing [love], why not something that’s like “practice.” Humans, men in particular, are not wired for monogamy. It’s actually detrimental to the evolution and genetic viability of the species. (DO NOT TAKE THIS AS AN EXCUSE FOR CHEATING!!! If you make a commitment to someone, be a man/woman and keep it. While technically it is the basic reason a lot of people cheat [though they don’t actively process it as “for the good of the species.” It comes out more as a “Ooo! Pretty! Must mate with it!”], that doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible for their actions! Seriously, this is where I must advocate self-control, and the only reason for that is because when emotions are involved, sex can be a weapon and a burden. What right do you have to hurt someone else because you can’t control yourself? So pathetic...

I also think it’s kind of pathetic the way we throw around words like “I love you.” Those words have lost so much meaning, so if that's the case, why even bother saying it? There are a few people in this world (and one in particular that my sub-conscious will not let me forget -_-“) that I never said those words to, and I will always regret that fact because I will never have another chance. But to those I say it to now – I mean it with all of my heart. To me, love is not something to be taken lightly. When I say it, I want it to mean something. I want it to be the special feeling/event that I’ve been told it should be- & something that can never be taken back.There are a few of us who would like to believe that true, pure love, if it exists, is worth the sacrifice and the patience. The question is, how and where is it found?

My point? The obvious. Love and romance can be complicated, and pressuring people to find it can have serious consequences that you don’t even realize. Serious psychological issues that can be triggered or “started” as a result of romantic interaction – depression, sexual dysfunction/disorders, obsessions. How else could “couple’s therapy” be such a flourishing business? Everyone is striving to become a picture perfect couple – there’s no such thing! From a young age, girls are taught to dream of marriage—to perfect princes who will sweep us off our feet. We’ll live happily ever after, a perfect life with a perfect family and a perfect husband. Everything about life is romanticized, from birth til dying beside our “one true love,” our soulmate. The fact is, that is not reality, and it can be a painful road to that reality.

Wow, you’ve read this far… Thanks and Congrats. I guess I should also say that I’m working on a novel right now (or should I say still…) that kind of works through all of this- or should I say that the main character is trying to work through her definitions of “love” and relationships to find out for herself what it’s really all about. It’s (hopefully) not as stupid as that last statement made it sound. I’m trying to represent a more realistic romance I suppose (sort of a romance novel but, not. I hate romance novels… most of the time.) If it’s any good, I may try to get it published as an e-book or something (it’s really not as bad as I’ve probably made it sound…). Wish me luck!

P.S. - Anyone "mentioned" here- I LOVE YOU GUYS!!! ^^"


Anonymous said...

I'm only extremely pissed off that I had a whole comment typed up here the other night, and then it obliterated it when I clicked post. Of course, cuz post means cancel when you haven't copied for safe measure.

How could I be the least offended or made to feel guilty? You cannot possibly offend me, and I know you're right about everything anyway, though I still rarely feel guilty. If anything my only complaint is that you spoke about me & your father in the same paragraph. FWB has nothing to do with an ability or inability to be loyal & faithful. You know I am fiercely loyal, yet I also subscribe to the FWB ideaology. And I actually never realized how accepting you were of my er, lifestyle. It actually sounds gross to me to want to have sex with someone you love. The people I've loved, the people I've thought I loved or come close to--disgusting! None of them include my exbfs. [No offense, Nana, but yeah I don't want to have sex with you.] The people I do want to have sex with, the people I have gotten sexual with? When they have said or if they would say "I love you," *like that*, then ewww!!! [A couple people have straddled the friends-lovers categories, but still, that friend-love & sex are kept seperated.]

I've been curious how you would handle a guy, but duh of course what you want matters more than my curiosities of alternate universes. At least I haven't been pressured into finding a guy. Except for my dad's mom's demands, my aunts' questioning, and my brother's gf's wishes [oh, if only she knew my brother only likes her for her butt & willingness to do some things]. & my mom's been dropping hints that she'd like to see me with Dave... I guess I just don't give it as much thought as you do. ^^' Well, there was that stint in March but that was out of paranoia.

If I ever end up with a boyfriend, you have my sane permission to shoot me in a non-life-threatening way.

Anonymous said...

Love you Nana.