We live in a culture that values coupledom and biological families over anything else. This is especially true for women, who are seen as more relationship-oriented than men. We hold romantic relationships up as the ultimate end goal, the prize, the be-all and end-all. We tend to believe this regardless of whether a particular pairing is healthy or toxic, discounting the possibility that someone might actually be contented and fulfilled while single.
Being single and being in a relationship both have their pros and cons. I was chatting about this recently with a friend who recently lost her mom. She’s single and she said she felt particularly lonely grieving her mom’s death by herself. She wasn’t completely alone, of course; her friends and family were there for her. But she said she had wished she had a partner to lean on during the worst of her grief.
I just listened quietly when I heard this. I wanted to speak up, but I wasn’t sure it was the right time to say what I wanted to say. Personally, I believe that the good things in life — support, respect, happiness, joy — depend a lot more on having close friends and family, not the absence or presence of a partner. A partner is just one person; friends and family are a whole community.
My relationship is without a doubt the most supportive one I’ve ever had. I don’t keep anything from him, because I’m not afraid anything will scare him away. I feel loved and safe with him. But he’s just one person. He’s just human. I’m still a person who is vulnerable and imperfect. And a relationship is not bubble wrap. Keep reading »
The long cold winter of our discontent has finally started to ease its grip on most of the country. If you live on the East Coast, you’ve most likely been buried in a never-ending pile of snow and frigid weather, seemingly doomed to spend the rest of your life mouldering in your abode, turning as pale and sour as spoiled milk. The past couple of weeks have seen the resurgence of something beautiful — warm weather! Flowers are blooming, the trees are heavy with blossoms, and when you leave work, it’s still light out and the air smells like the promise of short shorts, the beach and exposing your toes — and your winter-hardened heart — to the light. And what’s that in the distance? Ahh yes, a spring fling is on the horizon. Keep reading »
When you come from a small town, or from the peaceful, leafy suburbs of Bumblefuck, Western Australia (like I did), dating in any big, cosmopolitan city can be a strange and troubling experience. It can also be a lot of fun. Here are my six rules for getting the most out of dating in in the city and staying sane and positive while you’re at it. Keep reading »
I have a confession to make, one that’s taken me 28 years to admit to anyone but myself: I’m passive aggressive. It’s a trait that’s popped up countless times over the years, in all sorts of situations: with roommates and dirty dishes (hello, my OCD), with siblings and silly feuds, and with my fiancé and … lots of things. I’m not proud of it, but it’s pretty much a knee-jerk reaction: I get upset, pissed, or annoyed about something, and I resort to passive-aggression, AKA the least efficient way of making my feelings known.
To get an idea of what I mean, check out the five stages of passive aggression, as it happens in my relationship, below: Keep reading »
I’ve never been one for chivalry. I prefer to do things my way, and take pride in my own ability to lift things that are heavy, open doors on my own and find my coat in a sea of bodies and sad down jackets at a crowded bar. I’ve been with men who are completely unchivalrous, men who I’ve had to kick in the shins to lift a finger to help me carry an air conditioner up the stairs, and I’ve been with men who have fallen over themselves to get the door for me, even though I was already in the process of opening it. There’s a finesse to the art, a way of doing things that falls in between a fawning obsequiousness and a genuine gesture, bred of genteel manners and a different way of living.
There’s a fine line between chivalry and common courtesy. Holding a door open for someone who’s hands are full is good home training. Giving your seat up for a pregnant woman on the bus is good home training. Helping me into my coat at a restaurant is unnecessary, awkward and assumes that deep down, you are unconfident in my ability to put on my own outerwear when the fact of the matter is I have been dressing myself for longer than we’ve been acquainted. I understand that this is a gesture of kindness, but I view it as a harbinger of times past — and quite frankly, the past is where it should stay. Keep reading »
A few years ago, I had a Big, Terrible Breakup. I’d been living with a guy, whom I loved, wanted to marry and raise kids with. He wanted those things, too, until he didn’t. I hadn’t seen the split coming and felt completely gobsmacked.
I turned around, reactivated my OKCupid profile, and began dating immediately. That turned out to not be such a good idea. I thought I needed to distract myself (and considering I had moved back in with my parents, part of me did need to distract myself) but what I really needed was to heal. Alas, even though I was not ready to date yet in the grander scheme of things, dipping my toe back in the waters showed me there were lots other guys out there. It took me a couple months to admit that there could be someone out there better for me than Ex-Mr. Jessica. But my acceptance wasn’t necessarily due to anything particularly convincing he said while we were breaking up; it came from meeting other guys online who, in integral ways, seemed like they’d be a better fit.
That’s not to say that I limped off my injury gracefully. Not much at all, in fact. I passed many, many months during 2011 mired in bitterness — hurt, resentful, and very angry. Keep reading »
In a world filled with online dating, Tinder, Facebook messages, one-night stands, speed dating, match-making and good old-fashioned true love, where’s a hot bitch to turn to for solid dating advice? Well, why not history? Sure, names and dates and technology changes over time, but human nature doesn’t. If we look back at some hot bitches in history, we can figure out timeless ways to turn a hottie’s head or learn from the devastating mistakes of breakups gone by.
[Illustration of 17th century couple via Shutterstock]
My ex-boyfriend’s parents have been married for years, but they sleep in separate beds. At first, I found this practice strange, a manifestation of a marriage that no longer had the sparkle, one that had become more comfortable and practical than anything else.
I was wrong.
His parents were, in fact, perfectly content, deeply comfortable and happy with each other. Theirs was a long-lasting and functional marriage that ran smoothly on a combination of the comfort of knowing someone very well for a very long time, and the glorious amount of independence they each shared. His mother, an avid fly-fisher and traveller, spent a lot of time out of the country, exploring the world in her retirement. His father disliked travel, and preferred curling up with a good spy novel and the 49ers. She went on her trips, he read his books, and they were happier for it. For me, they were an example of pure success, something to aspire to, the best way to be together and independent. Keep reading »
Oh, boyfriends. While they might always have our best interests at heart, sometimes their adorable efforts to please miss the mark in an epic fashion. Of course we appreciate all the little things they do for us, but when those “favors” include things like putting our favorite dark wash jeans in the dryer or whipping us up a surprise meal that blows our calorie allowance for the month, well, it doesn’t really feel like a favor anymore. Are their happy, “Look what I did for you!” faces totally worth it? Yes, but that doesn’t mean we don’t miss the perfect fit of those jeans. Here are a few examples of kind gestures from boyfriends that, for a variety of reasons, failed to impress. Keep reading »
Say you meet a handsome stranger one night in the corner of a dark bar. He’s visiting from somewhere else, but something clicks and all of a sudden it’s on. After a whirlwind week where you manage to cram in a months’ worth of getting to know you, he leaves, back to his life and you to yours. The inevitable ennui sets in, but before you chalk this up to another fling with no staying power, do yourself a favor: Consider the adult long-distance relationship. Keep reading »