Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What's the most annoying question people ask you?
Aw man, I don't think I can pick just one. "Most annoying"? How does one rate the annoyingness of all this annoyance?
I guess I'll pick "But aren't you lonely?"
One, the obvious:
I really hate the assumption that unpartnered people are therefore "lonely." I mean, if you're a partnered person, you still have the capacity to be lonely, right? Sometimes even with your partner(s) around? It comes from a need not being fulfilled, and the idea that only a romantic/sexual partner can fulfill a need you're assumed to have is really bogus.
And of course, when I say stuff like this, people are like "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." As if any response to "so . . . LONELY???" that isn't "Yes, so lonely obvi!! :( :( :(" is admission of the same loneliness I'm denying. What does one say if I actually am not lonely but people keep saying I must be? There IS no answer I can offer to this that doesn't STILL get processed as if I said yes. And then there's the fact that any frustration or disappointment I express in association with this question--with the assumptions behind it and the frequency with which I hear it--is also interpreted as evidence that I actually feel the opposite of my stated feelings. ~Whoa, I touched a nerve, didn't I honey?~ No, my irritation over you asking me the same bullshit question tons of ignorant people ask is not born of defensiveness or fear of others judging my obviously lonely life.
And two, the less obvious:
The phrasing. "Aren't you X?" "Shouldn't you X?" "But don't you think X?"
People don't phrase things this way if they're actually asking the question.
They expect a certain answer, and they believe they already know it, and that leads them to "ask" in a leading way--which I find really insulting.
If you already believe I'm lonely, and you're also not going to accept it no matter what phrasing I use to tell you I'm not, then why are you even "annoying" me with your question in the first place?
I don't care to defend this against the commentary of people who aren't listening. If you're actually interested in my experience, and your own experience has led you to believe a lifestyle like mine would be lonely, I will be glad to tell you why and how we don't feel the same way. I will be glad to tell you how the usual everyday things most people appreciate--being greeted by a partner upon returning from work or an outing, sharing most meals together, waking up next to someone--seem awful to me, and though I can tolerate temporarily sustained company (or even appreciate it sometimes), I don't enjoy it in the long term and I really, really, really crave solitude. It doesn't matter if the person isn't really interacting with me; if they're home, it's not the same. If you can imagine the OPPOSITE of loneliness--a pressurized voice that keeps chanting "come on, I just want to be alone" that sometimes gets stronger over time--then maybe you can imagine that's what I experience with other people around me for too long. I can certainly MISS certain people or enjoy their company and attention, but I don't think I really ever feel what others describe as "lonely"--just wanting interaction with someone, anyone, a non-specific desire to have someone around. Just . . . no.
And yes, I know that's weird, based on how other people act, what other people say, and how unbelievable people find my claim to be happy.
How can I be happy in such a life? Well, because I'm not you.
"Aren't you lonely?" "Aren't you projecting?"