Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

Here's the video I made for Valentine's Day last year.

This is an older letter from someone who contacted me when I was in my twenties urging me to change my ways and find a partner because I was going to be lonely and then it would be "too late."

It's weird. I like Valentine's Day. Not just for the candy (but omg, yum) and not just for the excuse to have cheesy parties, but I like the idea that we have a set-aside day to celebrate our relationships, even though it's obviously been commercialized to the point that some people will consider you an ass if you DON'T do something special for your partner on that day. I like that we have a holiday for celebrating each other.

What I don't like is how consistently our society attaches pity to singlehood.

Being in a relationship is not the default for an adult.

I'll say that again.

Being in a relationship is not the default for an adult.

Being in a relationship should be a choice you make--a choice because you love the partner(s), a choice because you like living your life in a partnership, a choice because this is your version of family, a choice because that's what naturally evolved between you and your partner(s) and at some point you made it official. It is obviously not the only way to live your adult life, but it's incredible how consistently being single is regarded as a temporary state that will be abandoned as soon as humanly possible, especially for women. I'm supposed to be desperate by this point, and I'm supposed to be very, very lonely.

I don't need much social interaction in the first place, but when I do want or need it, I have a multitude of channels by which to access it. In other words, I have LOTS of friends (and family), and they make me incredibly happy when their company is what I'm looking for. I have been lucky, but I have also been conscientious about cultivating and maintaining these relationships. I worked hard at them sometimes, and sometimes there have been sacrifices involved, and it isn't just fun and games. Friendships aren't romance lite, and they're not substitutes. For someone like me who doesn't desire romance or a primary partner, they're also the only relationships I enter, and they're precious. 

I sorta tried dating when I was younger and I didn't find there what everybody else seemed to, and opportunities to date have continued to present themselves. I've remained disinterested. And yet I'm still being told by literal strangers on the Internet (as well as by acquaintances whose reaction to me saying "I'm 39" and "I'm single" in the same conversation is horror and pity) that my "problem" is stubbornness or fear of intimacy or inability to find a mate and giving up.

My friendships aren't physically intimate, but I've never heard someone argue that sex is the only "real" form of intimacy. You might be surprised at some of the things I've done and said to and with my friends--what I've been willing to do for them or how they've supported me in ways people might frame as romantic if they came from a romantic partner. (Actually, a couple of the things they've done HAVE been called out as proof that they feel romantically about me or are somehow pursuing romance with me without me noticing. Guess I wouldn't know; I'm just the one involved in it!) I know how to have an intimate relationship that's intimate on my terms. It's not a failure or a fake by virtue of its being non-romantic.

It's very hard to celebrate love sometimes when it's packaged the way it is. But I don't feel bitterness over any aspect of it. I want people to love (on their terms) and I want them to do so without concluding that everyone's love needs to look like theirs to matter.

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